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OS X El Capitan Requirements and Compatibility for MacBooks

OS X El Capitan Requirements

With an emphasis on speed and performance improvements, and exciting new features, OS X El Capitan is set to be a great new operating system to update your Mac to. However, it's important to note that not all MacBooks will be compatible.

If you're looking to upgrade to the latest OS version, we've made a simple guide listing out all the OS X El Capitan installation requirements, and MacBook compatibilities.

Fortunately, this new update isn't very system intensive, so chances are if you're running OS X Yosemite or OS X Mavericks you'll be able to update to OS X 10.11.

Which MacBook models can upgrade to OS X El Capitan? These ones.

12-inch, Early 2015
Late 2008 Aluminum,
Early 2009 or newer
MacBook Pro
13-inch Mid 2009 or newer,
15-inch Mid 2007 or newer,
17-inch Late 2007 or newer
MacBook Air
Late 2008 or newer

If you aren’t sure about your version, you can quickly find out what MacBook model year it was built in by going to:

  1. Click the Apple icon in the top left of your screen.
  2. Select About this Mac
  3. Click the Overview tab
  4. Look for the MacBook name and year


Version, Memory, and Space Requirements

Mountain Lion (10.8) — most models. Mavericks (10.9) or higher — all models. Yosemite (10.10) — all models.


  1. Click the Apple icon at the top left of your screen.
  2. Select About This Mac.
The number underneath "OS X" is your version number. If you're running a version of OS X older than 10.8, look into upgrading OS X.


4 GB (preferably 8 GB)

In the same menu as above, look at the Memory row to see your RAM.
If you have less than 4 GB RAM, you'll have to look into upgrading your RAM.

15 GB to 20 GB of free space on drive

In the same menu, select the Storage tab. In front of the multi-colored bar, you will see the phrase, "X.XX GB free out of XX.XX GB."
If you don't have at least 15 GB of storage free, you'll have to clean out your hard drive or upgrade to larger storage.

? What are the benefits to upgrading to OS X El Capitan?

Apple stated in the El Capitan debut that the Mac OS X 10.11 update would specifically support all Mac hardware that is able to run Yosemite (previous version of OS X).

Recently, Apple also stated that OS X El Capitan will have better performance on the same system when compared to the prior version of OS X. Speed increases include a 1.4x increase in app launches, 2x increase in app switching, 2x faster display of mail messages, and a 4x increase in PDF display within Preview.

Up to
App Launch
Up to
App switching
Up to
Mail message display
Up to
PDF display in Preview
? What are the coolest features?

1. Split View Split view is a feature we're most excited about. Running an app full screen is one of the most useful features of a Mac if you're looking to work distraction-free. Now, if you're working with two windows at the same time, you can use Split View to zoom them into full screen mode side-by-side.

2. Organized mission control Mission control is neat, but only truly useful if you don't have a lot of windows open - otherwise your screen just becomes a cluttered mess, and finding the app you were looking for impossible. Apple fixes this with the newest OS X update, creating an organized and grid-like view for Mission Control.

3. Notes The new update to Notes brings checklists, attachments, beautiful inline pictures and content. It's now less of a glorified text app, and more like a simplified version of Evernote.

4. Smarter spotlight Spotlight is now smarter than ever. You can now find weather information, sports, stocks, and transit information straight from the search bar. Apple also improved natural language recognition, so you can type something like "presentation I made on Friday" and you'll get search results for a Powerpoint made last Friday.